The novels of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series take two forms. The first is re-imagined fairy tales set in Edwardian England (and Europe beyond). The second is a more of a traditional (historical) urban fantasy series that centers around a group of magicians, psychics, and mediums in London, starring two plucky young women and their avian familiars. They hang out with Sherlock Holmes sometimes, which is why his star-power gets him on the cover of the book.
A Scandal in Battersea is the latter style, which is not my preference of the two, but it was still a quick and enjoyable read. It was a solid, magical mystery adventure filled with comforting characters familiar from earlier in the series. Watching Nan and Sarah grow up has been a lovely ride, and I do enjoy checking in on them.
I don’t think Lackey can be accused of “phoning it in” for this novel, because the imagery and historical detail are richly imagined. However, I longed for certain aspects of the story to reach just a little bit further, especially in regards to the Big Bad. Once you go “tentacles” in this time period, readers start thinking Cthulu. And while this book’s magical villain was referred to as an Oldest Old One who did atrocious things, there was less madness, and threat of madness, that might have upped the stakes a bit higher.
My biggest quibble is that the human villain is disposed of a bit too easily, and things end up tied up a bit too neatly for all involved. Since these books are not marketed as Young Adult, I wish Lackey would do her intended audience the favor of pushing us a bit more out of our comfort zones.
I still read Mercedes Lackey after 20 years because I am guaranteed to get a solid, quality book. But that doesn’t mean she should let us get complacent!